Shelby police chief weighs in on spike in line-of-duty deaths - | WBTV Charlotte

Shelby police chief weighs in on spike in line-of-duty deaths

SHELBY, NC (WBTV) -

If the city of Shelby had a color, it would likely be blue. These days, when you walk through down town, you'll see blue ribbons stuck on every street corner and tied to every tree, all of them honoring the life lost five weeks ago.

Shelby Police Chief Jeff Ledford says Officer Tim Brackeen's death changed his department. 

"Here lately, it's been a lot of getting back to a sense of normalcy," he said. 

Ledford never wanted to join the club his department was thrust into September 12 when they say Brackeen was shot by Irving Fenner Jr. He died two days later. 

"Their families know this is a real possibility that they may not come home. It just so happened that it reared its head here," he said. 

According to the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial Fund, Brackeen's was one of 46 line-of-duty gun-related deaths nationwide so far in 2016.

"Tim was out on the street doing what he did every day, which is protecting the public and serving the public," Ledford said.

NLEOMF stats reveal 30 officers were shot and killed on the job in all of 2015, which is an increase of 53 percent.

"We can talk about the what all day and I don't think we're going to get anywhere. Let's talk about the why. Let's dig down and see do we fix this and do we stop another Tim Brackeen," Ledford said. 

Ledford says his department is looking hard at ways to end any officer involved shootings - Whether his guys are in front or behind the trigger.

"For years we've really committed to let's build those relationships, let's not just go out with soundbites and say we're going to do this and just talk about it, let's go do it," he said. 

He says he watched the results unfold in the way his community came together in the wake of Brackeen's death.

"This is where I think we as a city and we as a community have shown the world, this is how you do it together," Ledford said. 

Last week, the department held a debrief at a local church for their officer's families, after Ledford says Brackeen's death has elevated the fear and anxiety of possibly losing their loved one in a similar way. 

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